May 4, 2011

[Games] LocoRoco 2 (PSP)

LocoRoco 2 (PSP)We recently bought ourselves a PlayStation Portable (PSP) as a sort of second anniversary gift for us to share, which is pretty cool. As much as we already have a lot of fun with our PS3, annoyingly enough there are console-specific titles that we can't get unless we jump to that platform. So staying with the Sony ecosystem of sorts, we opted for this handheld console unit to spice up our gaming life.

Now I had previously played different PSP games using consoles that belonged to friends and relatives, if only to pass the time. Of all the games, I was most drawn to Patapon, hence my recent review. But when we first bought the console, we couldn't immediately find a copy of any of the Patapon games given how old they were, so we ended up looking for alternatives.

Now this game was one that I knew nothing about apart from the fact that it was developed by the same people behind Patapon. Given the initial premise and the promising reviews, I picked up the title as something to tide me over. However the game was a lot more fun than expected and I'm definitely glad that we picked it up, even if only as a "substitute" at the time.

LocoRoco 2 is the 2008 sequel to the original LocoRoco game released in 2006. That game was designed by Tsutomo Kouno, who also developed the first game and who previously worked on titles like Ico.

The game takes place sometime after the first game where the LocoRoco were able to defeat the Moja Corps. However the Moja Boss, Bon Mucho, has decided to take another stab at conquering the LocoRoco planet with a new life-draining song. With the Moja all over the planet spreading their corrupting influence, it's up to you as a player to work with the LocoRoco to repel the invaders.

The Yellow LocoRoco moving about the world cur...Image via WikipediaLike the first game, you actually have control of the planet and not the LocoRoco themselves. Thus you use the L and R buttons to tilt the entire environment in order to steer your LocoRoco past obstacles and other threats as you try to clean up the stage and gather more LocoRoco. You are able to "grow" your LocoRoco up to a size of 20 by collecting certain items in the stage. At the same time, you can also toggle to split up your LocoRoco into its individual pieces in order to get past smaller openings and other obstacles.

The alternative control concept certainly presents for a different kind of gaming experience as you try to steer your gelatinous little LocoRoco without actually controlling him. Sure, you can nudge the planet against him in order to force him to jump, but that's about it. The game does provide some alternative options though in the form of small crevices that you can slide your LocoRoco into or even the ability to swim to a relative degree when immersed in water.

The sequel also allows you to use different kinds of LocoRoco as you unlock them, play a variety of mini-games and to eventually build out and decorate the MuiMui house as little side adventures. It's the classic kind of silly little rewards system that helps makes games a bit more fun and to give players a break from the constant platforming action.

Now the game isn't totally easy - each stage has its own share of challenges in the form of creatures that can either help or hinder your progress, rogue Moja waiting to attack you and various secret areas and hidden prizes. Just finishing a stage may not be too difficult, but gathering all possible items and growing and maintaining your LocoRoco at size 20 is the really challenge that does provide for great replay value.

There's no way to "improve" your LocoRoco, which is a shame since I would have liked to see some sort of leveling to help the game along. Instead, you just grind stage after stage with all your collected items mainly going to building out the MuiMui house or completing the MuiMui sticker albums. Given this limitation, it means that you really need to master the controls more and more, especially once you start fighting against the larger Moja level bosses in order to save the planet.

The game's musical element remains as light and whimsical as ever in the made-up language of the LocoRoco. The songs that are sung change based on which LocoRoco you use for the stage and this will affect certainly rhythm battle challenges built into the stages.

Overall, the game is delightfully fun and the kind of adventure that you find yourself strangely drawn to and unable to stop playing right away. LocoRoco 2 gets 4 singing LocoRoco out of a possible 5.

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